Your concert with the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra is called Baroque Oboe, how important a role did the instrument play in baroque music?
Oboe is very prominent in Baroque music! We have lots of divine things to play, by Bach, Telemann, Vivaldi, Handel and Albinoni to name just a few.
Diana Doherty. Photo © Christie Brewster
How would you describe your approach to early music performance practice?
I like to be as informed as I can, be inspired by specialist performers like Marcel Ponseele and Alfredo Bernardini, and be familiar with the whole score to gain a strong sense of the baseline and harmonic structure. At the same time, I try to hold onto the essence and simplicity of the message and not to get intellectual at the expense of that. So I guess you could say the aim is to be respectful and considered but still a little bit personal.
What are the pleasures and the challenges of the music you’re performing with the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra?
Of the many pleasures I would say the combination of oboe and strings is one that I really love to be immersed in. A long, long time ago I started my music journey on the violin and I think there is still a feeling of home there somewhere. As for challenges, well the oboe is always challenging on some level, and though I feel that I keep learning and growing with my instrument all the time, there is always more to discover.
Alongside the baroque works you’re performing Joe Chindamo’s double concerto Sanctuary, what can the audience expect from this music?
This is a very personal work in which Joe has tapped into his past and thereby made himself quite vulnerable. That is something that I admire and respect enormously. I will be playing alongside Alexandre Oguey, Principal Cor Anglais of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and my partner in life, and I love playing this piece with him. That makes it a very personal work for us too.
You and Alexandre gave the premiere of Sanctuary in 2017 with Camerata, how has your relationship with the work evolved since then?
It’s had time to settle but this will still only be the second time we have played it, so I think that there is more depth we can explore and hopefully perform it a lot more in future. What has not changed though, is the plight of refugees in the world and the relevance of the message. The need to hear the stories and humanise the condition of displaced peoples is as important as ever.
You regularly perform Baroque music, but you’ve also been a champion of contemporary music, particularly by Australian composers. How do those two facets of your career complement each other?
They complement each other very much actually. I find it fascinating to be next to a living composer and witness them choose dynamics, articulation et cetera and to see that it can be such a moveable feast. It makes me look back at earlier composers and see much more behind the markings that we classically trained musicians take so literally. While it is important to follow those markings, I want to find a bigger reason for doing so other than simply because it’s written there.
You’re incredibly busy this year, how do you manage the challenges of juggling a solo career alongside your role leading the SSO oboe section?
Let’s see if I do manage this year first! So far it has been okay thanks to very understanding family, colleagues and friends. I do like to sit with my coffee first thing in the morning too, before others are up, and just look at my diary and how to pace things throughout the year. And I plan little ‘practise retreats’ as well, where I can hide away somewhere outside Sydney and think only about oboe, which can be hard to do at home.
What are the upcoming projects that you’re most excited about?
I would have to say that there is a couple of weeks in September that I am very excited about. Firstly Ukaria 24 where I have been asked to curate a whole weekend of chamber music and play some of my favourite music. Then the following weekend I have a concert in Canberra where I get to direct the Canberra Symphony Orchestra in a symphony and three concertos. Both of these opportunities are things I’ve not really done before so I’m very nervous but also very energised.
Diana Doherty performs with the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra at Iwaki Auditorium on June 20 and Melbourne Recital Centre on June 23